Great Salon article about the Republican freak-out about the dreaded “L” word. Our big problem is that calling somebody “lesbian” is still seen as an insult, particularly in straight bars and on grade-school playgrounds and high school locker rooms.

Lesbian isn’t a curse word. It’s a word used to describe a woman’s sexuality. And you better bet that if you’re in a political party where you want to deny the rights of US citizens based on who they’re going to bed with, everybody’s gonna start pointing to all of the people you and yours are going to bed with. Because *you’ve* made it a political issue. You’re saying you’d DENY YOUR OWN DAUGHTER EQUAL RIGHTS AND PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW FROM HATE CRIMES. And it’s about time we stopped saying “they” when we talk about “those gay people” and how “we” should “give” or “take” away “their” rights.

Lesbians are people too. I’ll repeat that, because Republicans seem confused: LESBIANS ARE PEOPLE TOO. Oh, yes. And US citizens. When we say “America” and “us” we’re talking about everybody. Not just the straight white guys. “We” go to bed with all sorts of people, in all sorts of interesting ways. “We” can all vote.

“We” are America. Get over it.

I hate to break it to you all: Lesbian isn’t a dirty word. There are, indeed, quite a number of women who enjoy going to bed with other women. In fact, there are a lot of women who aren’t sexually attracted to men at all. Yea. Really. I know, I know, this may come as a shock. In fact, these women are so strange… they may even fall in love with other women! Dear lord! And create happy little couples (or. Ahem. Perhaps more than a couple). Happy! Imagine it! Happy women! Happy, happy women! Dear lord in heaven!

Here’s what’s really fucked up:

Once you’re happily out of the closet a few years, you don’t bat an eye at someone hearing you’re gay. Even on national television. Even if your father’s the vice president. (Especially if your father’s the vice president — don’t you think she’s used to it by now?)

What rips your heart out is when someone close to you denies your sexuality in public. Or shudders at the mention of it, so you can see how desperately they want to.

It may sound like a subtle implication to a straight person — clearly it does; even the most liberal straight pundits appear oblivious to it — but a gay person hears it scream out loud and clear. You people still feel there’s something to be ashamed of here.

One of the happiest days of my life came when one of the old ladies at my mom’s Catholic bridge club mentioned what a nice young husband I’d make. My mother, in her 60s by then, laughed it off. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said. “He’s gay.”

I was stunned when I heard the story. It had taken her years to get to that point. And it meant everything to me. She didn’t care what the bridge ladies thought. She cared more about me.

I doubt very much that Mary Cheney gives a rat’s ass if some church lady in Idaho knows she’s gay. But her mother cringing at the church lady knowing — that’s gotta hurt like hell.

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